Monday, August 31, 2009

Qadira: Gateway to the East

Qadira is the latest (for a few more days) in the Pathfinder Companion series, a set of small, 32-page 8½" x 11" full color sourcebooks for the Golarion campaign setting. Where most of the action in this setting takes place in a vague equivalent to Europe and North Africa, Qadira is the far-flung, most westerly province of an analog of the Persian Empires, the Ottoman Empire and the golden age Islamic Caliphates all rolled up into one.

This makes the book Qadira unusual. Not in that it romanticises the historical era to which it loosely corresponds (that's actually par for the course) but because it isn't a nation, really... it's a mostly autonomous satrapy of a much greater nation. This makes it also very unusual compared to it's historical inspiration; few of the nations in real life were an autonomous group, warmongering Ottomans to Taldor's fading Byzantium. It's not even easy to guess if it's supposed to be Asia Minor or the Levant, although that's probably a good thing. This is, after all, a fantasy setting, and a too close analog to real life history means that design hasn't done enough work.

That said; what are some of the themes here? Genies and genie-touched races figure prominently. Genie-related magic does too: there's a prestige class focused on being a genie-friend, and there are new races and "monsters" that are genie blooded humans, basically. Highly cultured courtly life is important. Slavery is big, although maybe not quite as integral to the concept as it was in the Katapesh book. All in all, somewhat like Taldor, this felt more like an interesting sourcebook from a historical perspective, but not one that screamed with adventuring locations.

I think they tried a bit more; there were some intriguing adventuring sites presented, but all in all, I got the feel that this was a more settled land, and that adventurers of the typical D&D stripe weren't necessarily all that welcomed by the officials of this land. Rather, I think the set-up here was for showcasing exotica and involving the PCs in urban, courtly intrigue much moreso than exploring ruins, dungeons and whatnot.

Which is fine by me; I prefer that kind of game anyway. I found the book to be very interesting, but I freely admit a bias towards this kind of product; I like a slightly more exotic setting, and I like looking towards the historical great empires of the real Middle East moreso than to the smaller kingdoms of historical Medieval Europe for inspiration.

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